Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wait an Apple Picking Minute . . . .

I have not had a haircut
since June '12
Florida in October - temps in the 80s and low nineties. On Friday morning at 5am it was in the 60's. I dressed for my birthday in my favorite October outfit of denim jeans and my It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown T-shirt. Notice that my belt matches my phone. (both are my favorite color). I felt ready for a day all about me. It was my birthday and I'll wear cartoons if I want to!

Georgia in October normal temps in the 70's. Temperature in Georgia when we passed Atlanta on Friday at noon: 54 degrees. Temperature 1 hour north in the mountains: 46 and windy.

When we arrived at the first orchard the wind was blowing, the air was just the way I wanted my apples: crisp, cool and with a snap to it. I got what I wanted. We got apples at four different orchards, in eight different varieties.

Valley of a small family orchard
Do you know what evil thing they have at all these apple places? Everyone of them sells hot apple cider, and freshly made hot apple fritters. The smell when you walk into the apple bushel central is a killer. Do not walk into one of these places hungry. Like Eve, I was drawn to the sinful goodness of the hot, ripe apple (cider). It was delicious. I split a 6oz cup with my husband and then drank hot water to get the sweetness out of my mouth.

Near the Mercier Orchard mega store
They also sell fudge,  nut brittles, jams, jellies, honeys and doughnuts at each location. I am telling you: do NOT walk into one of these places hungry. I cannot tell you how thankful I was for my cinnamon Quest protein bar that day. It went very well with my apple choice of the day, too.

Saturday: Twenty-nine degrees. That is what the temperature was when we woke up on Saturday morning in north Georgia. It warmed up to a balmy 55 degrees by 3pm. After going to a small family orchard and then a freaking enormous semi commercial orchard with a store the size of a small Target we had the best experience of the weekend. We climbed the tallest mountain in Georgia.

Entrance to path. Get the no bike sign.
No one could bike up this
steep an incline.
We were driving along a lovely scenic road on Saturday when we saw a sign for visitor information for a place called Brasstown Bald. "What is that?" I wondered. I pulled the car over to the driveway and started up what I thought would be a simple steep driveway to a small overlook.

Ah, no. It was much more than that. Brasstown Bald is 4,784 feet above sea level. When you drive to the parking area you still have 6/10ths of a mile to get to the top of the mountain. There is a can that takes 90% of the visitors to the top. Then there is a walking path for those who want to walk the 6/10ths of a mile . . . .

Must have
oxygen - please! 
My husband said "Let's take the path." Of course I agreed. Come on, it is six tenths of a mile. That is nothing. I can do that on one foot, right?

Try this: walk six-tenths of a mile up steep staircase. That will give you an idea of what this was like. I walk up stairs. I walk up hills. I walk on a treadmill and use the incline. I thought this hill was going to kill me. I literally had to stop every 1/10th of a mile to catch my breath. My husband had to pull me at one point near the top. And then when you get to the top there are STAIRS to take you to the top of the observation tower.

I finished the mountain death march, crawling walking out at the top, sweating through my denim jacket and sucking in air like a dog after a long run. I was aching, my heart beating hard in my chest - but I felt good. I conquered the mountain by foot when most people take a van. I don't know if that would have given me satisfaction if I had dropped dead right there but since I am still alive to share the story, I can say yes, it felt good to do it. It also makes me wonder why I struggled as much as I did whereas my husband had to respiratory struggles whatsoever.

I claim this mountain for
former fatties everywhere
From the top of the mountain you can see four states: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. The temperature on the mountain year round mimics the climate of Massachusetts.  Top summer temp is 84 degrees. Lowest recorded temp there is -24 degrees and it snows there in late autumn/winter and early spring.

Because of the degree of incline on the path I decided to take the van back down. My lungs may have hated me for the unplanned excursion that afternoon but my legs had no problem with the path as long as I was going up the mountain. I knew going back down would be hard on my knees. More than hard, I knew traveling down hill at that angle could really damage my stressed knees. I insisted on a van to go back down the mountain.

We went to several 'country store' knick-knack shops and I model train museum. In the train museum. I will write more on the trip in a future post. For now I want to share my gratitude for traveling with my own food. We only ate 'out' for our lunches. We skipped the doughnuts, danish, ice cream and all kinds of breads and pies. I skipped the 'free breakfast at the hotel in favor of my own food.

I had a great birthday and weekend keeping the pounds off while traveling. If I had been obsessed by the foods, my next meal and what other snack I could 'sneak in' we would have never have thought to stop and see the top of the mountain. What a gift!

What was your best surprise excursion since you started keeping the pounds off?



PJ Geek said...

yea! glad you had fun..temps are in the 70's in Ga during the day all of this week...You had birthday magic weather stuff going on. yes, those apple places are big on pies and cider and what not. a lotta what not..the apples are good though.

Karen said...

Love the pics. Happy Birthday! I remember the smells at the orchards in Indiana. And caramel apples. Glad those days are over.

I would say walking the deck of the cruise ship during the inside passage-Alaska cruise AND being able to do a lot of walking on the day trips has been the BEST gift ever. Loved traveling to the most scenic place ever and to be a normal weight. Dream come true!